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Effect of oxygen on the metabolism of Zymomonas mobilis

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The specific growth rate of the ethanol producing bacterium Zymomonas mobilis was 25–40% lower in the presence of oxygen than under anaerobic conditions, provided the cultures were supplied with a low substrate concentration (20 g glucose/l). However, the molar growth yield of these cultures was not influenced by oxygen. With washed cell suspensions, an oxygen consumption could be initiated by the addition of either glucose, fructose, or ethanol. Cell extracts catalyzed the oxidation of NADH with oxygen at a molar ratio of 2:1. Further experiments showed that this NADH oxidase is located in the cell membrane. The specific oxygen consumption rates of cell suspensions correlated with the intracellular NADH oxidizing activities; both levels decreased with increasing concentrations of the fermentation end-product ethanol. The addition of 5 mM NaCN completely inhibited both the intracellular oxygen reduction and also the oxygen consumption of whole cells. Both catalase and superoxide dismutase were present even in anaerobically grown cells. Aeration seemed to have little effect on the level of catalase, but the superoxide dismutase activity was 5-fold higher in cells grown aerobically. Under aerobic conditions considerable amounts of acetaldehyde and acetic acid were formed in addition to the normal fermentation products, ethanol and carbon dioxide.

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Dedicated to Professor Dr. H. G. Schlegel on the occasion of his 60th birthday

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Bringer, S., Finn, R.K. & Sahm, H. Effect of oxygen on the metabolism of Zymomonas mobilis . Arch. Microbiol. 139, 376–381 (1984).

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